Arid. Humid. Clean. Polluted. You may be surprised just how much your surroundings can affect the condition of your skin. And it's not just the environment. Our skin is influenced by our lifestyle choices and personal habits as well.
The good news is if you pay attention to the world around you and fine tune your routine accordingly, you'll be rewarded with skin that is both healthy and radiant. Read on to find out how environmental factors can have a negative impact on skin, and how to combat the effects.
Pollution: Harmful impurities in the air and water are believed to strip the skin's thin, outermost layer of Vitamin E, a substance essential to health. Vitamin E, both as an oral vitamin and as an additive to lotion, is said to be effective in alleviating itching, dryness, allergic reactions and other skin conditions.
Climate: Moisture-saturated air helps skin maintain its natural hydration while hot, dry air causes oils to evaporate more readily, resulting in skin that is dry, uncomfortable and flaky. So if you live in an arid climate such as Phoenix, you'll probably need to moisturize more often than if you live in a highly humid area like Miami.
Ozone: High above us, the ozone layer is at work absorbing Ultraviolet B (UVB) light (the kind suspected of causing most skin cancers). If you live at high altitudes where the ozone layer may be thinner, you may be at a greater risk. In such conditions, dermatologists recommend using sun protection with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. In fact, sunscreen is a good daily practice no matter where you live.
Food: Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals responsible for signs of aging. Fruits, vegetables, grains and seeds that contain antioxidants such as Vitamins A, E and C can help you achieve healthy-looking skin.
Exercise: Exercise infuses your system with oxygenated blood, which helps your internal organs function properly. Make regular workouts part of your weekly routine. A brisk walk, yoga class or trip to the gym will go a long way toward improving your skin's overall health and beauty.
Smoking: Smoking affects more than just your lungs. It constricts blood vessels, and slows delivery of nutrients to skin and the removal of toxins. If the Surgeon General's warning isn't enough to make you quit, think about how much better you'll feel with healthy, glowing skin.
Alcohol: Both alcohol and caffeine can cause dehydration, which affects all your organs, including your skin. Make an effort to match each drink with a glass of water throughout the evening, and be sure to drink plenty of water before going to bed.
Stress: Stress has been shown to cause changes in hormones and cortisone levels, which can lead to breakouts and acne. Treat yourself to at least one relaxing, pampering activity per week, be it a quiet walk, a pedicure or an hour with a good book.